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CalMac and CMAL were dealt yet another embarrassingly awkward moment yesterday (Fri, April 19) when Ferguson Marine conceded the MV Glen Sannox ferry would be delayed another two months.

New Ferguson Marine shipyard boss John Petticrew wrote to Holyrood that delivery will now take place in July.

Petticrew has blamed the dual fuel system—the first time fitted to a UK ferry—for this latest holdup, citing a “lack of available expert knowledge and qualified resources in the UK.”

The ferry is being fitted with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel system, which is proving trickier than originally envisaged to install to the satisfaction of regulators. It is expected that CMAL won’t receive the long-delayed ferry until Wednesday, July 31.  The ship, once intended to serve the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy route, is now aiming to travel between Ardrossan and Brodick on the Isle of Arran. 

In his letter to the Scottish government’s net zero, energy and transport committee, the Ferguson Marine boss said: “The installation and commissioning of the LNG system, a first in class for UK shipbuilding, remains particularly challenging.

Adding: “Regrettably, this will result in a delay of the delivery of this fully commissioned dual fuel system vessel, now targeted for the end of July 2024.

“We appreciate and fully understand that there will be disappointment in all quarters.”

A major technical challenge in using LNG is storing it at -162C to remain liquid. Ferguson Marine relies on specialist contractors for most of the work.

After delivery, CalMac will put the MV Glen Sannox through two months of sea trials. The best estimate currently is that the ferry will enter service in October.

Earlier this year, eight years after construction began, the MV Glen Sannox sailed under its own power for the first time, powered by its diesel engines.

The ship and its sister vessel, Glen Rosa, were originally due to be finished in 2018, but the project has been plagued by design and construction issues. 

The final bill will likely be four times the original £97m contract price, and the ferries will be delivered at least six years late.

Image credit: CMAL